So far I’ve written a synopsis of the WordCamp2007Israel event and how Lorelle is helping me to be a better blogger. Now I’d like to talk about my perceptions of the event.
For a first outing, WordCampIsrael was fantastically organized. Even though there were not a few rough spots, the people behind it deserve kudos for pulling it off, especially since I understand the event was put together in a relatively short period of time.
There’s only a few observations I want to make:
Advertising: There were far too many official sites for WordCamp Israel.
Pick one site with a link to an English subpage and a post-conference subpage and update it and the links to it regularly. Even today there’s no link from the pre-conference blogs to the official post-conference blog, let alone a mention that the event is over and was a success. :) If you need volunteers, advertise it loudly on the front page of the site and the sign-up page, but casual visitors don’t need links to wherever the organizers are meeting online.
Conference Tags: Please include not only the name of the attendee, but also their site (unless the attendee doesn’t want it listed). I may not know your name, but I might be reading your site.
Newbies: There were people who attended the event who have never blogged before and who most probably did not know how to deal with the nuts and bolts of setting up a domain and a program like WordPress. They truly were candidates for “one-click publishing”, however blogging on WordPress.com wasn’t discussed at all. (Guys, I know the focus was on the standalone version of WP in Hebrew, but FYI several of the panel participants have their blogs on WordPress.com, including Kfir Pravda and Lorelle VanFossen.) Gaining WordPress experience on a free platform before the headache of paying for, setting up and running one’s own domain can only encourage potential standalone WP users.
Friends: Many of the presenters in the afternoon session seemed to be talking to “The Inner Circle”. I understand the reason, but it isn’t conducive to getting a message across.
Arguments: Israelis love to question and argue. Schedule this time into the program and stick to it as much as possible.
Technical Support: Presenters need to set up their support needs before the event and event support staff need to be responsive to on-the-spot needs. Besides the annoyance factor, an incredible amount of time was lost in “Law for the Blogger” while the presenter had to deal with the mics and run back and forth getting the mic to people who wanted to ask a question. Three mics and two assistants would have taken care of the problem.
Event schedule: For next time, plan the morning session with general topics of interest to all bloggers and split off the afternoon session for specialist topics, returning to the main auditorium for the big event closing session. If I couldn’t attend an afternoon session because it was full or conflicted with another topic of interest to me, it will make me want to come to the next event.
Cost of Participation: For next time, charge a fee even if it is only symbolic (ya-ani “simli”). People, Israelis in particular, seem to have the mentality that unless you pay for something, it doesn’t have value. There were 250 places available this year. Over 400 people signed up. Of the 250 people who had a place reserved for them, not just a few backed out at the last minute without advising the organizers because “Hey, it was free”, so nothing lost. :(
Whew! Enough of that. What did I take away from WordCamp Israel? A sense of community, happiness that I had a chance to meet up with a couple of old blogging friends and had the opportunity to meet new blogging friends (because of WordCampIsrael, I’m encouraged to read more blogs in Hebrew), and developed an overwhelming admiration and appreciation for the incredible things bloggers are doing with their blogs! (OK-I’m biased because I still read mostly in English, but bloggers like Miriam Schwab and Jacob Share deserve Israeli Bloggies.)
I again want to thank the WordCampIsrael organizers for bringing WordCamp to Israel. I know this was a huge (more than huge) undertaking. But, like childbirth, in a few months the pain will be behind you and you’ll begin dreaming about what next year’s program will be like.
As a parting gift, I’d like to leave you with this YouTube video I stumbled on while viewing something else entirely on Niv Calderon‘s blog
Hopefully next year we can convince Matt to join us. Inshallah! :)